The parents of a 7-month-old girl are fighting a legal battle in the United Kingdom to resist a healthcare system's push to remove their baby's life support.
Claire Staniforth and Dean Gregory, parents of Indi Gregory, are fighting in the High Court in London against Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust's recommendation to end life-sustaining treatment for their daughter.
Indi is suffering from a rare mitochondrial disease and is currently in pediatric intensive care at the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham, according to the rights group Christian Concern.
The parents were given only 48 hours' notice earlier this month about a legal hearing to decide their daughter's future. At a hearing this week at the High Court in London, lawyers for the NHS Trust argue that it is in Indi's "best interests" not to receive treatment that would "sustain her life" if her condition worsens.
A public "best interests" hearing is scheduled for Monday. Evidence is expected from medical professionals and Dean Gregory, 37, from Ilkeston in Derbyshire. The family is receiving support from the Christian Legal Centre, the legal arm of Christian Concern.
"Indi has been in hospital all her young life. She is not in pain and is clearly comforted by her mum and dad," Gregory said after this week's hearing. "We just want to give her a chance."
Gregory said his daughter responds to touch and can experience happiness. He criticized the healthcare system for pressuring the family to give up on Indi.
"It has been like experiencing Hell," he said.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said in a statement that "A truly compassionate society that cares for the most vulnerable in society just doesn't do this."
"We recognize the courage shown by Dean to stand up in court without a lawyer and defend the life of his child with the weight of the system stacked against him," Williams said. "We are pleased now to be supporting the family who will do all they can to contend for her life."
The family had been pressured to abort Indi multiple times before her birth, according to Gregory. He described the legal proceedings as "inhumane and wrong on so many levels."
Gregory recounted his experience defending his daughter in court without a lawyer, facing NHS barristers.
"How can this be right for any father to go through?" he asked.
The family is prepared to do whatever it takes to fight for Indi's life, Gregory said.
"We call on the hospital and courts to respect and support our wishes and to work with us to find solutions to give Indi the best chance of life," he added.
Another family in the U.K. went through what Claire and Dean are going through.
They are struggling with a legal muzzle even after the death of their daughter, whose identity and case details were suppressed for over a year. Court orders recently only partially lifted the veil but maintained restrictions.
A judge last week identified the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust as the healthcare body responsible for the late 19-year-old Sudiksha Thirumalesh's care, Christian Concern announced.
Sudiksha's case involved a rare genetic mitochondrial disease, which left her fighting for her life but fully conscious. Before her death on Sept. 12, she could not share her story publicly or raise funds for experimental treatment abroad because of a gag order that shielded the identities of the hospital, NHS Trust and her own family.
The family said Sudiksha had full mental capacity until her death, disputing a judgment from High Court Justice Jennifer Roberts that she didn't have the capacity to make life-or-death decisions after NHS lawyers argued that she was "delusional."